Monday, December 31, 2007

End of 2007 Gaming Goodness

Well, I ended 2007 on a good note, with a fine day of gaming. Jason and Justin Easley came over early to get the day started. We played some Exxtra while I made breakfast and to get us started. I won the first game, but Justin had a nice streak of luck and managed to squeeze out two more wins, included a VERY close last game, where he just couldn't roll an X and finally got doubles for a win.
After breakfast, we sat down for real gaming and Jason asked for us to try out Wabash Cannonball. This turned out to be a great little game that is only marred by two things - the components are minimalistic (at best) and this is published by the putz of the gaming community John Bohrer. Despite that, this was an interesting game - my best description for this might be that it's a bit like Union Pacific, except that you auction off the shares of the lines and the money payed for the shares is all that company can use to invest. Its really a slick little game that plays pretty quickly. I managed a pretty good sized win here over Justin and Jason (96,62,73). <rant-on>Now, I'm hard pressed to say that I'd pay JB $40 for this. The money is literally just color paper (not event construction paper thick, but color copier paper) with amounts printed in the middle (like - $100). The shares are not much different. The map is small thin cardboard affair, and the instructions look like he ran them off a photocopier. Now, if this was a home published affair, the world would be in an uproar that the guy making the game wanted $40 ($30 + S/H) and yet this is EXACTLY what it looks like you are getting. Given that I hate paper money and have poker chips, I can make this game for about $5 (tops) with a small amount of effort. Would I pay $40 for a better produced version? No. This is still at best a $20-$25 retail game (meaning you'd expect this for $15 on most web shops). I'm annoyed that it was decent and that the publisher wants so much for it. Bah. <rant-off>
After Wabash, Justin Kosec arrived and I pulled out Tier auf Tier so I could try this with four adults. Justin E and I had apparently drank too much coffee to start the day as we were both terribly jittery. Justin K was not jittery at all and won his warm up.
Next, we pulled out Race For the Galaxy. This was Justin K's first time playing, and though he was familiar with San Juan, he still took a game to take everything in. I ended up playing a "brown planet" strategy that seemed to sneak up on my opposition and I won (44CH-28Jas-41JE-16JK). As Justin had the mechanics down now, we played again. This time Justin E started out strong with a military strategy and nailed a huge win. (29CH-30Jas-51JE-40JK).
Jason only had about 90 minutes left before he had to take off, so we finally decided to pull out Union Pacific. Jason owns this, but hasn't ever played it before and I enjoy this game, but rarely play it and was happy to explain it to everyone. We played with unlimited UP stock and I made sure to explain the importance of that stock's payout many times. We had the initial dividend card come up very early in the game (which turned out to be a predictor for the rest of the game) and the race for UP stock began. I was easily in the lead after the second dividend payout and the others raced to catch up on UP stock, realizing how much I was pulling away. In the end, it didn't matter as the last dividend card came up long before the end and I won by 21 points (101CH-80JK-74Jas-69JE). It wasn't until I started writing this that I realized how similar that Wabash and this game felt. Both use railroads as the theme, but are really just investment games. The track serves as a way to limit the options when increasing the company's worth, but otherwise really doesn't serve any other purpose (ie shipping or moving goods or people doesn't happen). You only score for those rails you have invested in. They are of course not identical, but (and I hate to say it) - Wabash scratches the same itch, and for me it does it better and faster.
After Jason left (Happy New Year buddy - I was glad to sit down and game with you), Justin E asked for Mykerinos. As I've reported before, this is a fun little game that I'm terrible at. I continued my losing ways again and both new players beat me up (55JE-54JK-49CH).
We finished our day out by introducing Justin Kosec to the 3-player-all-time-favorite San Marco. There isn't much to say that I haven't said before. Justin K's newness was definitely a factor as was the incredibly small amount of banishments we saw. I managed to win my last game of the year (84CH-61JK-72JE) and look forward to gaming in 2008.

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Recap

Well, the year isn't quite over yet, but that's ok - I thought I'd put down some thoughts on 2007. Maybe its cliche or trite to do these sort of lists, but here are the Things of No Interest Best and Worst of 2007.

Best Game

Age of Empires III. Though I only played it a few times, this was the game that grabbed me the most. I really liked the multiple paths to victory and the need to play tactically based on your opponents and the buildings that were available to you. Just enough randomness and minimal downtime appealed a lot to me here.

Biggest Surprise

A tie for me between Descent and Race For the Galaxy. Now, RFtG is not the end-all-be-all of gaming, but it is a slick, interesting, fast playing game and it scratches some itch for me. Descent is that game I wish I had had growing up. I'm really enjoying painting the minis and look forward to playing this in the future.

Worst Game

Hansa: Changing Winds. Hands down the worst variant EVAR(not ever, EVAR). I enjoyed Hansa and was looking forward to a variant map. In fact, I like the new map. I HATE HATE HATE, the other new rules as they hose this game. How could 5 playtest games not revealed how bad this was? BLECH.

Most Played and What I learned

Ingenious. I got the free computer version and played a bunch against the AI. Then I played a bunch online against my sister and Matthew Frederick. And what did I learn? This game is too random. I'd prefer to play this only as four-player in teams from now on.

2nd Most Played and What I Learned

Samurai. This is a GREAT game. It plays so very differently with 2-3-4 players. A lot of people don't like it with four and I'm sure not many play it with two, but its really good with any number, you just have to come at it differently.

Best Kid's Game

My favorite kids game this year has been Tier auf Tier. This is fun with the kids, and a surprisingly good dexterity game for all adults as well. The pieces are well done and there is a good amount of skill needed.

I Wish I Had Played More...

Age of Steam. Still my favorite game, I wish I had played more. Nuf said!

Best Spousal Game

Crokinole. This was the only game I got my wife to try this year that she boldly proclaimed she really liked.

Best Filler

Exxtra. I've read reports this is getting a reprint. I hope so - its a fun little game that in many ways is better than Can't Stop.

Of All The Games I Acquired This Year, I Wish I Had Played...

Die Macher. I am sooooo playing this in 2008. Really.

Looking Forward to The Most

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization? Brass? Nope - I'm on THE bandwagon - Agricola. I already paid for mine - print and ship it already!!!

Game Day

Friday Dec. 28, 2007
I had the day off today, and Justin and Jason Easley came over to spend the day gaming. Justin wanted to show Jason Crokinole, so we started off with a couple games. Justin played Jason and then me, winning both games. Justin and I's game was pretty close and somewhat tense towards the end as we traded center shots. After cleaning up, I suggested we play a game of Race For the Galaxy. We started with random hands, which meant I had nothing extraordinary to start with. After a few cards were built, I named a 6 pointer that gave bonuses for alien worlds, so I aimed myself at trying to finish up that way. That seemed to pay out pretty well as I won this game 41-36-30 (me, Justin, Jason).
Next up, Justin picked Cuba. I have only heard that this is similar to PR, so I was interested to see if this was as good as advertised. The rules were pretty straight forward and we started playing. I made some poor choices and typically, was behind Jason in the actions I needed losing out to a lot of points. I finished well back of this one and Justin won easily, 81-76-64 (Justin, Jason, me). Its true, this is similar to PR in that there are roles, production, and shipping and selling of goods, but its sufficiently different in execution that its not a complete re-hash. Its too bad really, because this seems like a decent game - but I think this one will get the same amount of play due to PR-burnout. Its not really a 6-7 game, except that I probably wouldn't request it. I didn't dislike it, but I don't have any itch to play it again either.
After we finished, I checked the time and figured we'd better play Age of Steam, lest we fail to play it. I picked the Ireland map for us and set everything up, explaining the unique actions for the map. Starting out, I wanted to make sure and get at least one of the two red-blue sea-lanes (which I did) and hopefully one of the yellow lanes as well. As it turned out, I got both yellows. Jason built on the West side of the map while Justin went north and East. The first few rounds were expensive for me as I built up my southern/eastern empire knowing that the end game would likely bring me extra income from someone having to use my lines. Jason struggled and finally had to start giving me income in order to stay in the game. My infrastructure payed off as I started making money. Though I took out more shares than either Jason (who had far less than either Justin or I) or Justin, my ability to make large deliveries at the end and my network gave me a pretty good win 95-80-54 (me, Justin, Jason).
We had barely 20 minutes left, so I pulled out Tier Auf Tier to show the guys (since they both have small children too). This one is actually pretty decent fun for adults as a filler game, since there is a lot more placement strategy. Justin managed the only major fall of the game, but made a couple good placements to make up for it. I somehow manged to get rid of all my pieces for the win, despite having drank too much coffee today.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


"I love it when a plan comes together"
"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

Um, no, that isn't the Hannibal I was referring to. This being a game blog, I could only mean Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. This of course is the Valley Games reprint of the classic Avalon Hill game. Considered by many as one of the finest card driven wargames, it was out of print and VERY expensive for a long time. Valley Games reprinted it, and I actually nabbed a copy off Tanga for a good price. I had yet to get it to the table though. Mike Garrett came over last night and I got to pull this out for us to fumble through (as most first playings always seem to be). Mike played the Romans and I the Carthaginians. I went over the rules (as best as I understood them) and we got started, with neither of us having a clue what we were doing. My cards were such that I risked moving a general from Spain to Sicily to start attacking, but Mike squashed that in short order - in part by breaking a rule we wouldn't figure out for a while - that a general can only move 5 combat units (CUs) on a ship. His larger army attacked (as Mike put it - to see what combat was like) and beat me. I was a bit tentative with Hannibal and used my first turn to mostly try and place political control (PCs) markers in play. This went pretty well for the first couple of turns, though neither of us was making much headway. Then Mike went for an assault on Africa. Normally, doing so leads to a large advantage for the Carthaginians (due to allies giving the Carthaginian player a larger number of battle cards), but Mike had a card that canceled out the African allies help. His attacks took out my general and he started to siege Carthage. I was forced to recall Hannibal to Africa to try and stop the Romans. One good roll for me and a bad roll for Mike let me save Carthage and expel the Romans from Africa - saving the game. It was of course at this point we figured out the CU limit for sailing, which drastically changed how the game was played - since Roman generals can't move unless they have at least 5 CUs, going to war via the ocean meant risking your general (and his armies) getting stranded. Oh well. a couple of turns later, Mike again assaulted Africa and this time was able to siege Carthage before I could stop him - winning on turn 7.
Now, for a first playing, I have to say I still have no clue what needs to be done. I have a better feel for the strategy cards and what's out there, but the rule we played incorrectly about moving armies skewed this game pretty badly. Though the basic mechanic of the strategy cards is similar to Twilight Struggle, its sufficiently different that the games are not all that alike. In fact, unlike TS, I didn't feel like the strategy cards were the defining factor of the game - the dice were. As the Carthaginian, the dice give you pause when considering moving by sea. They also play a roll in the outcome of a fight (you can win a fight and still lose a load of guys). Sieges are determined by the dice. In the end, a lot of things are simply determined by the dice - and yet, I didn't feel like the game was nearly as random as say Manifest Destiny. I liked how the battles are resolved, though again, you can be the dominant attacker and lose quickly with a little bad luck. Overall, the luck factor here is just enough to make things interesting (its about playing the odds) without taking away from the strategic and tactical portions of the game. This one needs a few more plays before I settle in on how I feel about it, but I like this one from what I've seen.
Lastly, some notes on the components. On first look, the components look super, but I think things are really hit or miss. The board is a giant 10 piece puzzle. I like it - it doesn't warp like a regular board might, but... I think I'd have preferred a folded map ala GMT games. They could have made it with the same artwork, but there are a couple places where the lines of the puzzle make it hard to tell if there is a line between cities or not. The art on the board is great - its quite beautiful. Its also hard to tell exactly where the regions are though. The rest of the pieces are neither spartan (heh) nor overly artsy, but I HATE the counters used for the armies. They have different numbers on either side, and they tend to get knocked over in their stacks, which can be a huge pain - which side was it on? A minor complaint, but it seemed to happen a lot. Also, maybe a lot of folks are familiar with the ancient geography of the Mediterranean, but I'm not. If a card says I can do an action in a region of the board, I'd like the art to show me where its talking about, rather than trying to scan the board in the middle of a game. I'm sure you'll hear - "after you play it a couple times you'll know", but I think that's a cop out. Don't get me wrong, the pieces and board for Twilight Struggle were far inferior to what you get here, but I think there is still some obvious room for improving things. My complaints are not going to drop my rating/feelings about the game just yet, but I thought I'd throw those out there.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Now, I've never played Container. It just arrived today. But I already have a few things to say. First about the colors and artwork - I don't care for the colors of the ships and blocks. That said, I don't care that much either, as I plan to re-paint them in bright colors ala the box art. And, I pre-ordered this, so I also plan to paint my plastic containers when I get them. No, I'm not hand-painting them. A coat of spray paint (and for the plastic bits, an ink wash) will suffice.

Kevin Nesbitt posted a strategy article on the geek. One of the things he wrote struck me - "Despite Container being listed as a 3-5 player game, I want to let everyone know how strong the game is with 3 players. In fact, I think the game is strongest with 3, very good with 4, and quite difficult with 5. The reason is simple: more players means tougher price competition, which in turn means a more unforgiving economic system." Interesting - I look forward to giving this game a few plays. There are games that scale well (for instance Power Grid), and then there are games that simply play differently with various numbers of players (Samurai is very much like this). I'm hoping this falls into the latter like category. Samurai is interesting in that as you add more players, your focus has to change because there is simply more competition for resources. Some people don't care for this with anything but three players, but unlike a game like Hansa, which doesn't play well with two or four, I believe Samurai plays well with 2, 3, or 4. The approach to the game is simply different. It'll be interesting to see if Container is the same. It'll be too bad if this turns out to be 3-player "only" game ala San Marco, as 3-player games are (for me) tough to get to the table.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I am RED

I play red. There are a couple reasons for that. I'm a Husker fan for one. So yes, that red pawn is not Sooner Red, or Cardinal Red, or whatever retarded red you think it is, it is HUSKER RED. That said, when I played with the AZ gamers, nobody had a claim on red and since its a fairly common color in games, I usually took it. Now, everyone had "their" color: Jason Sato was always yellow, Jason Maxwell always tries for purple, Matthew Frederick = green, Matt usually was blue IIRC. I'm not sure, but I think Bobby usually went blue as well. Group dynamics are always interesting. Here in Omaha, I've still managed to hold red, despite having a lot of competition for it. I've offered to take black on occasion, but I still seem to get red frequently. Games like A Game of Thrones tended to throw me, because you didn't "pick" your color. There is nothing worse than figuring out your next move only to realize you don't own those pieces.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Race For the Galaxy

There seems to be a lot of talk about RFtG. Both in my comments and my emails, so I thought I'd try an open a bit a dialog, because this game current has my interest. If you have anything you want to say about this game, please drop me a line or comment and I'll be happy to add it to the thread. So first up Jason Easley.
Jason: I was reading up on the game in several places, and it has been indicated that several expansions were already done, in the sock, before the game even went to print. So, if I get this right, they stick a $35 price tag on a card game (with only a handful of chits, no wood), and then you can buy the full version of the game for more money. Now, I think the game is great (had to get my own), it looks stunning, plays well, etc. But for $35 for a card game, I would hope that I could get the full version, instead of being baited into spending more money so either :a) more people can play, or b)I get to play with more variety.
Charles: First off, RFtG is about $5 more than San Juan, a game that it is comparable to (assuming prices at an online store like ThoughtHammer). I believe that RFtG is actually printed on nicer linen finish stock and has some nice player aids, so I'm ok with the price - though I can certainly see where $35 for a card game might keep non-gamers away - heck, $20 for a card game might keep anybody away. But I don't think its really overpriced. As far as them selling the "full version" - I wouldn't be surprised next Christmas to see a deluxe version or something with the expansions included. But as far as this game goes - it is a full game. A full 4-player game that doesn't feel in the least bit incomplete to me. Its fun and interesting. I can certainly see where they've left the door open for "more" and I'm excited to see what they have in store. In fact, the only thing I'm disappointed in thus far is that its only a 4-player game. Heck, Blue Moon is $20 with like 10 expansions. You can get them or not, and it doesn't take away from the base game being complete.
Matthew F: Jay (of Rio Grand Games) noted that the art -- a unique picture for every card -- cost him a small fortune, and unlike a CCG, won't sell tens of thousands. As such, I don't see the $35 as out of line.
Charles: I guess I hadn't thought about that, though that's another thing I like about RFtG over SJ - there are much fewer duplicated cards in the deck.
Mike Garrett: So it's a safe bet that this will be hitting the table quite a few times in the future, I think you'll get your money's worth.
Charles: I think this will see my gaming table a bit in the future for a number of reasons, the biggest being - if you know how to play, this game actually becomes a very good filler. If we have 30 minutes at the end of a night and 3 people that can play, this is a good choice. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying this is the greatest game of all time and its all I want to play, because its not. But I do think its one of those rare really good short games. Based on $$/play, this will easily be a bargain choice for me, with or without the expansions - though $$ per play has never really been my main consideration in purchasing (see Age of Steam and Heroscape).
(slight change of direction - a comment from a previous entry)
Matthew F: I played Race for the third time last night. I quite like it, it's very enjoyable, and I'll happily play again, probably many times. That said, man is it ever a multi-player solitaire game. Yes, there's a little bit of interaction, in that you might not choose Develop or Settle if you think someone really needs it, but it won't stop you from picking it. Wish it was a little more interactive, that's all. I find that there's a lot more interaction in Puerto Rico, precisely because only one person can choose each role, and the timing and availability of those choices can greatly affect other players. San Juan is less interactive than Puerto Rico, but I still find it more interactive than Race for the Galaxy. I look forward to expansion cards that improve interaction, that would be great!
Charles: There is some amount of truth in that - the extent of interaction at this point is which cards to hold so that they don't go back into play, and which action to take. Personally, I never worried about which action would help other players though I did try a couple times to take an action I thought might benefit if another player took a certain action - case in point: I took TRADE once, without any goods to sell. Mike was baffled, but I gambled that someone was going to play SETTLE. Someone did, and I settled a windfall world, thus getting a good into play. This was a strong (though gambled) action, as nobody else had goods either, so I wasn't helping anyone else. However, this sort of play has been rare thus far. Personally, I think that in PR and SJ, there feels like more interaction due to the roles HAVING to be taken (not taking a role in PR will help someone in the next round). But I like the cat and mouse approach of simultaneous action selection. How well you read what others are doing can make a difference in the game, though its not the whole game.
Mike Garrett: I agree that the simultaneous selection adds needed spice to the recipe, I always thought San Juan was rather bland.
Charles: Just out of curiosity, what sort of interactions would you like to see, that wouldn't just destroy the game? The ability to devastate other player's worlds (like a one time use Death Star type development)? The ability to suppress types of cards (ie nobody can use any Alien tech or world abilities this round)? I'm not sure these will happen or not. I guess I don't see this becoming too much more interactive other than through repeat playings such that you play the cat and mouse games with your opponents.
Jason E: Oh it is a full game alright - I meant to convey that I think that it is kind of funny that all the expansions were done before the game even went to press. I picked up Cutthroat Caverns a while back, and it had an expansion released right along with it - as a separately available item. RFtG is beautiful - everything about it is attractive, from the VP chips to the cards, heck even the insert is cool. So I can see why it is more expensive that San Juan (not to mention inflation). But why not release the game to be playable with a full slate of 6 (instead of 4) right off the bay?
Charles H: Tom Lehmann explains exactly why in his designer diary entry. The short answer is that the expansions will change the way experienced players will approach the game. In fact, there will be blanks in the second expansion that allow players to submit their own card. The best will get added to the third expansion. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd think you'd see some sort of mass effect card or at least a card that hurts or slows other players down come out from the community. I've got a couple ideas like this already in my head. Like a Death Star card - costs you 5 military + 3 cards and is worth 5 VPs. During the development phase it can be used to kill any planet on the tableau once during a game. Its powerful, but one shot and costs a lot to get to the table. You can use it to slow down someone out in front, but its unlikely to be on the table and in use so early in the game that you can't recover from its effect.
Mike Garrett: I say leave the game alone, it is what it is. I think any player interaction would detract, not make it better. We can play Game of Thrones if we need to 'interact'.
Charles: True, but not in 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Game Night

Friday Dec. 14, 2007 - Game Shoppe
I headed down to the Game Shoppe to get in a bit of gaming Friday night. Mike Garrett and my buddy Steve Wicklund were known to be coming, though who else might be around was not known. I had purchased Race For the Galaxy last time I was in the Shoppe, and had only just taken the shrink of it a couple nights ago. After reading through the rules and "playing" a few hands solo, I could see why this had been generating some good buzz and I really wanted to get a couple plays in. I got my wish. We started the night with my explaining the game to Mike G, Heath, and Mike's friend Mike. Essentially, the game is a card game, where the cards are everything - money, worlds, developments(improvements), and goods (ala San Juan). In fact the game has a very familiar feel to San Juan (which is not surprising after reading the designer notes). At any rate, we started with the predetermined hands as recommended in the rules. Steve walked in just as we started, and I explained the game as we began. I don't remember which world I started with, but I remember thinking that I'd probably be trying for lots of military worlds and such, but after 4-5 cards on the table, that wasn't apparently how things were going to happen for me. However, I got a few good cards to the table and managed two good bonus (6) cards that gave me the edge at the end. The scores were Mike 26, Mike G 30, Heath 30, Charles 36. Heath bowed out, and Steve sat down, so we started another game, this one with the starting hands being random. This time, the card draws were not going in my favor, and I couldn't get any worlds into play and ended up playing most of the game card poor (my initial cards seemed to be development heavy or bonus (6) cards). Mike started out getting a couple alien (yellow) worlds into play and a good development that made him card rich from the outset of the game and he had no problem cruising to the win when Mike G built 12 crappy cards. As with San Juan, just ending the game by building 12 cards means nothing in your score - bonus cards typically are what determines the winner (though not always). This game's scores: Mike 31, Mike G 25, Steve 26, Charles 20. With only about an hour left in the night, I got Mike to pull out Edel Stein and Richt again. Though its not my favorite game of all time or anything, it is a great game and Steve had been interested in trying it since I told him about my last playing. This game was fairly even through the first round, though the second round saw Mike G and I often picking the same action and thus losing position to Mike and Steve. In the last round, I had a pretty good gem collection going while Mike was down to a single red gem. However, Mike often choose the money action while the rest of us were fighting over other crap and he won handily. Final scores - Mike 90, Mike G 80, Steve 77, Charles 72. Still a fun night, though I got no closer to Nickel or Diming anything.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

0-1 Count, He Hits One Out!

Well, it wasn't BeyondMonopoly. Today I got to open the second gift and get my second clue. This gift was a nice Husker mug. My note mentioned that Santa has a geekbuddy named Cornjob that is also a Husker fan. I was told I might be able to get a clue from him, so I geekmailed him. I was also told that Santa isn't a big Husker fan. So, now my clues were going to be limiting my list down to those matches to people that listed Cornjob as a geekbuddy. Cornjob is fairly well known/popular, so there were still a good number of suspects. I shot him a geekmail and got a reply back shortly that the perpetrator had a microbadge - a Star Trek microbadge and that Cornjob had met this person before. Armed with this detail, I narrowed the list down again. One particular user caught my eye - MUKid. They're both living in MO, he meets the other criteria, and I can see why he wouldn't be a Husker Fan. And, I was right! Woooo hooo. Now, I'm not opening my other presents until Christmas, despite being allowed to according to the rules. Besides, I got my present - a new geek buddy. Thanks for the fun MUKid

Yes, you may barf now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Shout Out To My Secret Santa

My Secret Santa package arrived today. I've received a few instructions warning me not to look at the return address/addressee from "santa" in my BGG mail. So, I do my best not to look while still making sure its a box that is for me (have a few ebay items coming in for the kids I'm getting antsy about). I open it and what do my eyes see? Packing peanuts (green). Hmm, disappointing. I hate those things. They always are oppositely charged with my arms and I can't get them off. So, I dig in and there are a number of packages and some instructions. Santa is making a game of this. I'm to open Gift #1 right off the bat to get started. Ok. Its a few paint brushes and a note about painting my Descent figures. Hmm, clue one is he/she is a reader of this blog. The only people I don't know that I know have read this blog are Verkisto, Yehuda, and somebody named Shea. Not so much of a lead. Now, the "real" clue is that my Secret Santa (dun-ta-ta) (sorry, my kid has been doing that a lot lately thanks to the Backyardigans Secret Agent episode - now back to my thought)um... oh yeah, my Secret Santa (dun-ta-ta) rates AoS a 10 just like me! (or maybe I'm just like Santa). Ok. Well. According to the geek, that's like 440 people rating it a 10. I just spent a bit of time and have it down to about 287 folks. That's largely due to pure brute force, as there isn't any way to do real db queries like I'd like (select users where user has secretSanta2007MicroBadge and AgeOfSteamRating = 10). I finger printed the tag, but the BGG doesn't have a fingerprint database to search and unlike the cool guys in CSI Miami, CODIS doesn't turn up any hits for me either. H said he has my back and to follow the evidence, but what does he know? Anyways, the rules of this game are that after each clue, I get to send out one geekmail to try and guess my Santa's identity. I'm going to send out one email now - basically, I'm going with the first guy who rates AoS a 10 that lives in the US. The lucky recipient of tonight's SPAM is... David Fair (BeyondMonopoly). Sorry David, your geekname just shows up early in my list.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tis the Season to be Jolly

I am happy. A very large thanks to Mike Gingold, as this is mostly due to him. Today, I hold in my hands (though obviously not while I'm typing this - that would just be silly) a copy of Chinatown. Chinatown is #2 in the Alea big box series. Chinatown is also out of print, and an English version was never published. Only the German Alea version was ever released, making this somewhat hard to get. I now need only #8 (Mammoth Hunters) and #10 (Rum and Pirates) (ok and technically #12 - In the Year of the Dragon, which hasn't been released in English yet) to finish the collection. None of which should be an issue to get. Now, Mike didn't just Secret Santa me with this - its a trade. I'm making him a copy of Atolla Modulis (which is something of a pain, but well worth the effort here I think), but I think I'm on the generous end of this trade - so again, thank you Mike. I'll try and finish soon. Now, in addition to the other things I posted about playing earlier, I have to think about getting this one into play :D

Nickels and Dimes

Its getting closer to that time of year. The end of the year. Time for lots of looks back at the year that was. For board gamers (and bored gamers), that means looking at their nickels and dimes (or for those that don't get that - the playings of games that got either 5 or 10 plays). I'm not sure why this is such an obsession with gamers. In some cases it shows what a gamer really likes to play. In others, it just shows that their group plays the same fillers a lot ;). Interestingly, Liar's Dice is nowhere on my list this year :(. A look at my playings this year shows that I have a couple games sitting on the fence. To wit - a couple playings of Hansa - Changing Winds and BattleLore will push those two into the dime category. Having said that, I also said I wouldn't play any more of this variation of Hansa, so I guess it'll have to live with "nickel" status. I'd love to put a couple more BattleLore playings under my belt - live or on Vassal. Also on the periphery is Gulo Gulo with four plays. If you've played this and have kids, you'll know why it can go from 4 to 10 in one night with ease. Then there are a load of games that are sitting on the nickel fence.
  • Hansa
  • Oh Hell!
  • Taluva
  • Tikal
  • Crokinole
  • No Thanks!
  • San Marco (possible)
    So, the real question is - do I want to push these games that I have already played a number of times this year to 5 playings, or do I want to try and get in some of the games I wanted to get in by the end of the year? I have a pretty good shot at making those all nickels on my list (assuming Justin K plays his turns in our online Tikal game). If I do that, that should make 14 games that hit my Nickel and Dime list for 2007. Now, the truth is, I don't care if any of these don't make the list, as long as I got to play something...
  • Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Samuari Bridge

    Despite having never officially played Heroscape, I am a fan. I have collected nearly every set available for purchase (though I do not have the 3-4 promo figures). One day while looking around for scenarios to print out, I discovered (a webzine about Heroscape). In one issue, a guy talks about (and rougly shows how to) building custom bridges out of balsa and other craft materials. One of the cooler ones was a Samurai Bridge. I thought - I can do that! So I went to Michaels and grabbed some materials and just started winging it (winging it to the pictures). So at any rate, here is something of a pictorial of the construction.
    Laying out the frame.Frame done.Starting the bridge floor.
    Floor doneStained and starting the railsNearly finished!


    You'd think I couldn't possibly care. A game I've never seen nor played. I've read about it a bit. It sounds pretty fun. Its Agricola. Its quite possibly the most current hot and anticipated game out(not out) right now. If you are curious how good it is, people have taken to making paste-ups (ie printouts of each card that are "pasted" to the German version) so they can play it. See, the game has a lot of cards that are all in GERMAN. Z-Man Games has said they'd print the game in English after getting 750 pre-orders. The pre-order news was announced on Nov 14. As of 12/6, the count was 727 pre-orders. That's crazy. And cool. Now, assuming they get the rest of the orders, we still aren't likely to even get the game (yes, we - I pre-ordered) until APRIL. Anticipation...

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    All I Want For Christmas...

    Someone asked me today what I hoped to get for Christmas. To the best of my knowledge, they are not a board gamer, so saying things like Agricola, Antiquity, Indonesia, Princes of the Renaissance, Himalaya, Brass, and Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization wouldn't have meant much. Sadly, even to my family, who understand I love games, it wouldn't mean anything. That's ok - it doesn't have to mean anything. It'd be nice if it at least registered somewhere on their radar that I might like to receive a game for Christmas, but truth be told - if I get anything resembling a game for Christmas it will likely be a mainstream kind of game that you can find at any store. I would be floored to actually find a game I had wanted under the tree. Now that I have that out of my system...

    Truth be told, I'm at that age that it doesn't bother me. I enjoy hunting around eBay for games. I like looking for the deals. I like putting together my occasional ThoughtHammer order of at least $125 to save $8 in shipping ;). Beyond gaming though, I really fall into two gift categories - 1)Rather pick it myself than have someone choose for me or 2)So expensive, nobody is giving it to me as a gift. So what do I want for Christmas? Something I wouldn't have thought of. Something I wouldn't have purchased myself, but discover later that I'm really glad I have. Which is to say - I don't know. For now, I'll be happy if my kids really enjoy Christmas and I get a chance to play some Guitar Hero III. Lastly, I'll be happy if I get to play a few games - especially some Age of Steam.